Title: Untouchable (one of two stories in the Deep Kiss of Winter anthology with Gena Showalter)
Author: Kresley Cole
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publishing Date: October, 2009
Hardcover 436 pages (the novella has about 240 pages)
Stand Alone or series: Part of the Immortals After Dark series but can be read as stand alone
Why did I read the book: This series is my literary crack
How did I get the book: review copy from publisher
Summary: Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden — the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can’t be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure. Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together, can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?
Review: Kresley Cole’s Untouchable is one of two stories in the anthology Deep Kiss of Winter (the other story is Gena Showalter’s Tempt Me Eternally which I did not read as I am not acquainted with that series) and is set in the Immortals After Dark world. Kresley Cole’s books are my literary crack and I have read all of the novels and novellas in the series. I have enjoyed the first few very much but I am starting to feel a certain boredom and dissatisfaction with the series with the latest instalments. Untouchable has just cemented this feeling.
For all intents and purposes , I should have loved the story. This is the romance between the last of the Wroth brothers, Murdoch and the Valkyrie Daniela known as the Ice Maiden for her Icere (Ice Fey) half and at its heart it is a “Reformed Rake” story, my favourite romance trope. Murdoch was quite the ladies men, never attached to any woman until he became a vampire. One of the things he fears the most is to find his Bride (the vampire’s version of a life-mate) as he can’t think of anything worse than to be shackled to someone for eternity. That makes him absolutely unique in the world they inhabit (for all vampires want to find their Brides) but also amongst the heroes we have seen so far. It also provides some entertainment in itself as he asks those questions I am sure we all have asked at some point about the very idea of “mating”: Is he supposed to feel okay about being mated FOREVER with someone he hardly knows?
Even worse for Murdoch is the fact that Danii, as part Icere , is very sensitive to warm temperatures and is literally, untouchable or else she feels pain. She is hiding in New Orleans with her Valkirye coven because she is the rightful queen of the Icere, whose crown has been stolen and she has been a fugitive for about 2000 years. She has been unable to have any relationships and is very lonely – her reaction to being Murdoch’s Bride is one of relief until she realizes that he is not happy, at all.
And here is where I reach a problematic part of the review, with a conundrum.
Kresley Cole’s books are known for the oversexed characters and plot. Her books follow a recognizable pattern (loads of foreplay, and some conflict, then loads of sex) and that becomes part of the comfort in reading them. You always know what you going to get, in a very predictable manner. This book is no different, the sexing is scorching hot as usual, and is pretty good at that.
BUT, I find myself, as I said above, bored. Although each of Kresley Cole’s characters has individual traits that differentiate them from the characters from the previous books, the journey they make towards the happy ending is a very repetitive one. Without a strong world building in which to set the romance, the books are starting to read the same, every single time. Especially when I compare them to other paranormal romance series such as Nalini Singh’s and Meljean Brook’s; both these series have strong world building and stories that go far, far beyond the sexing. I had hoped Kresley Cole’s would go the same route (what with the Ascension and the Lore) but I lost that hope with the latest instalments.
Even though the conflicts, both internal and external, in this story are interesting to begin with, they come to a resolution, far too easy and fast. For all that Murdoch resists the pull of his Bride still he falls in that predictable pattern: endless pages of foreplay, displays of jealousy-possessiveness and his doubts being pushed aside because hey LOOK , her sex is glistening. Similarly Danii’s storyline with the Icere is solved ridiculously fast especially if you think this has been going on for two thousand years. In a matter of seconds, all that comes to a resolution with a Deus Ex Machina in the shape of an Icere guy who has “I am a future protagonist” written all over his hawt, tormented self.
The “conundrum” and “problematic” comes from the fact that there is nothing NEW here. All of the above happened in previous books which brings me to my point. If the books remain the same, it is I who have come to a crossroads – do I keep reading or do I part ways with the series? I read Romance books for more than the sex, and I think that the Immortal After Dark series, after that initial novelty feel, is not really for me. I do intend to read the next one, Pleasure of a Dark Prince because I have been waiting for that story since book one, but I have the strongest suspicion that that will be my last one.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: I thought his passage was funny – like an inside joke about these books’ tropes:
“Obviously, I need to leave,” she said while thinking, tell me I’m your Bride, and that I WILL be staying. Be an arrogant, possessive Neanderthal vampire! She wanted him to simply inform her that he would never let her go and she would just have to accept that, or whatever domineering misguided trip these manly men always said.
Verdict: If you read this series you know exactly what to expect. All left for you to decide is: is it worth paying Hardcover price to read another similar story that does not progress the main plot at all?
Rating: Well. If you are looking for good romance and hot sex, the story is effective – I would give it a 6. Overall plot is quite weak though – and that is a 4.
Reading next: The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V. S. Redick